Is Longer Addiction Treatment Better?

There is no single method for addiction treatment that is guaranteed to work well for all patients. Drug and alcohol rehab tend to be most effective when offering a flexible, personalized approach that can be streamlined to suit the needs of the individual. However, in instances in which patients have struggled with substance use disorder for extended periods of time, and in instances in which people have tried and failed in recovery before, long-term treatment is often the best choice. Programs that last one to three months give patients ample opportunity to learn about themselves, the underlying causes of their addictions, and the best coping strategies and mitigation skills for dealing with outside temptations and stress. When people are addicted to highly addictive substances, the best programs are often those that last six full months or more.

If you’re currently looking for a rehab center, you have the option of attending an inpatient program or an entirely outpatient one. With inpatient treatment, clients are completely separated from the outside world. They spend between four weeks and six months living in a closed campus environment that’s entirely free of outside distractions, stressors, and other challenges. Apart from medications used as part of treatment support, these campuses are drug and alcohol-free, and visitation is limited.

In some instances, even cell phone use is limited or prohibited as well. As individual treatments near their end, these programs gradually increase personal freedoms via on-campus visitation days, and short, off-campus visits to prepare clients for re-entry to society. With outpatient services, patients attend on-campus therapy sessions and participate in various on-campus activities for a specific number of hours each week. After this portion of their treatment has been fulfilled, patients can return home to their families. For people with mild, short-term addictions, outpatient treatment makes it possible to continue working current jobs, continue supporting and spending time with family members, and continue engaging in many other personal, professional, or social activities. Much like inpatient services, the duration of outpatient treatment can vary. Some programs last just one month, whereas others can last one year.

Deciding Whether Short or Longer Addiction Treatment Is Right for You

Failure in addiction recovery typically occurs when people do not seek professional treatment, and when they do not seek the right types of professional treatment for their needs. Addiction can have many possible underlying causes, and it can present in varying levels of severity. For some individuals, finding programs that offer services for comorbidity or co-occuring disorders is of the utmost importance. For others, being physically separated from enabling family members, toxic living environments, and toxic relationships is key.

As you shop your options in treatment centers, understand that the ideal program is often determined by factors such as:

  • It’s level of intensity
  • The amount of ongoing oversight provided
  • The type of secondary support services that the program offers access to

More often than not, it is unlikely that a person’s treatment will be too long. More time in addiction recovery ensures that people are fully adapted and comfortable with their new, sober way of living, before exposing themselves to the temptations of the outside world. In fact, patients are always encouraged to find ongoing forms of treatment and support, whether they’ve completed short, weeks-long treatments, or have spent as long as 12 months in rehab.

Ongoing recovery support or relapse prevention treatment acknowledges that the battle with substance use disorder can be lifelong. People can successfully complete addiction treatment and spend years or even decades without using, only to succumb to temptation as the result of isolation, overwhelming stress, or other life events and lifestyle factors.

When programs are longer, they do not merely reiterate what patients have learned in their first few weeks of attendance. Longer programs take a much more in-depth approach to restructuring unhealthy life habits, changing negative thought patterns, and ensuring that patients have solid plans for ongoing health and financial stability post-treatment. Longer addiction treatment programs are always advised for those who have struggled with highly addictive substances such as opioids, and for those who have used large quantities of drugs or alcohol for long periods of time.

Patients with a history of failed recovery attempts also have the best chance at succeeding when committing to programs of longer duration. However, extended treatments are also advisable for those with multiple comorbidities or multiple co-occurring disorders, long-term housing and financial instability, histories of non-fatal overdose events, long-running histories of abusive relationships, and numerous legal and financial battles resulting from addiction that must be waged. In these instances, longer treatment times provide more opportunity to mitigate and resolve outside stressors that increase the risk of relapse. If you or someone you love is in need of addiction treatment and wants to find the right program length for assured success, we can help you find it. Call us now at 302-842-2390.